Thursday, September 3, 2015

Seeing the Signs

I found it so funny that when I was praying about this adoption over the Summer, God put an extra child (girl) in our church pew with our family two weeks in a row (one week a friend of Madi's, and the other week, a dear friend's daughter). And one of those times, a woman remarked to Jimmy what a beautiful family we have. I chuckled when I saw that God wink.

Then, on July 12th, there was a traveling priest giving the homily at Mass, whom we'd not seen before at our parish. During his sermon he spoke of Jesus sending out his disciples to do his work with him and on his behalf. At the end of the homily, the priest loudly--and with conviction--said, "If God is calling you to do something, and it is for good, then you must do it!" That's where he ended it. You know how sometimes you feel like God's talking directly to you? Yeah...this was one of those times. I could hardly wait to approach the priest after Mass to thank him and asked him once more about his message. He looked at me and said, "If God has something planned for you, he will make a way for it to happen."

The week leading up to our decision to adopt Lulu, I received a number of what I'm calling "Hearts from Heaven" delivered by hearts here on earth. I received these little confirmations from all over the place that week, mostly from people who didn't know a thing about our adoption plans or about Lulu at all.

The first picture, taken by a dear friend on her honeymoon, was sent to me the day before we needed to give our decision to the agency. Marissa found this heart in the pavement at a place called "Angel's Landing" in Zion National Park. "Angel's Landing" was given it's name originally because it was thought to be so high only angels could touch it. Call me crazy, but that heart felt like it was a confirmation sent straight from our angel, Daniel.

On the same day, my friend, Nikki (who has been extremely connected to Daniel since first reading his story), posted this picture of a heart on Pluto on the With an Open Heart Facebook page.

This is Milo, a little boy who came from the same orphanage (Shanghai) as Charlie. He found this heart in his potato chip bag, and his Mom sent it my way on the day that we gave our decision to the agency to adopt Lulu.

Amanda, Daniel's anesthesiologist, sees and sends hearts all the time. I swear she has a direct line to our son in Heaven! Amanda knew about Lulu's file...she was one of the first, since she's one of our *key* medical file reviewers. Amanda did not know, however, that we were making our decision to adopt Lulu that week, and she sent all three of these our way.


This potato chip heart was posted on Daniel's book page that week by a friend, Jennifer, who we met in China last year while adopting Joseph. She found it in her potato chip bag and thought of us.


Thank you, friends, for being the messengers of these special hearts.
They will always be a part of Lulu's adoption story.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

To Change a Heart

Some of you may be familiar with this verse from Proverbs 24:12, others not. In the adoption community, it is widely known...

"Once our eyes are opened we cannot pretend we do not know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows we know and holds us responsible to act." 

I knew we would go back to China. I felt it. I swear I even knew when we were there to adopt Joseph last year. You see, I saw my husband hold babies. I saw the look in his eyes when he peered soulfully into the eyes of children who weren't born from his blood. He loves them all. And loving them for mere moments can bring that strong man down to the brink of tears.

I let it go, though, for months, while listening to him claim "we are done" to others. I shook my head in disbelief because I felt it in my heart. I knew there was more love to give, and somehow I knew we had room for one more.

Time didn't allow me to write much at all during our busy Summer, but I believe God used this season, once again (I swear He calls me out during Summer) to stir my pot more rapidly. We were running short on time to reuse our dossier (you have one year from the time you come home) through Holt, and I knew the time was coming near.

And then, I saw her. It was June 18th, and her face randomly crossed my Facebook feed in the China Waiting Child Advocacy group. Lulu. My heart skipped a beat. I watched as people commented how beautiful she was, and I read the comments about her needs. They seemed so manageable to me. I almost instantly wrote to the Facebook friend who was advocating for her and asked how I could obtain more information. She replied that the agency contact was off to China but that she'd be back the following week and would respond to my request. She also mentioned that other families were interested in pursuing Lulu's file. I wrote back how I trusted wholeheartedly in God's plan, and that if it were meant to work out, it would.

My hopes weren't dashed, but we hadn't used this particular agency before, and let's face it...our comfort level is with Holt, the agency who's delivered our three beautiful boys. But I had a strong feeling, and I quickly filled out the agency's request form for more information.  To my surprise, I heard back from the contact the next day, to say that she was in China meeting some of the children, and Lulu was on her list of children to meet! There were some questions about the accuracy of her file, and her medical condition, but the contact was kind enough to let me know that she'd reach out once she had all the information. That weekend, Joseph opened a fortune that read "A journey must begin with a single step," and, to me, it felt like confirmation of new beginnings. But I knew I needed my husband to feel the same way.

I was amazed at how God paved the way for our date the next week. Grandpa Murphy and Suzanne had swept Madi away on a Disney cruise for five days, Jimmy's sister, Kathy, had given us a voucher for a hotel room night that she'd won in a silent auction, my parents offered to take the boys for a sleepover, and the sweet couple who'd bought our house when we recently moved offered to buy us dinner in exchange for some stereo equipment we'd given them. The way it all came together was so perfect..suffice it to say that I knew the Holy Spirit was giving me the quiet opportunity to talk about Lulu.

"Do you know why I've called you here to this meeting?" I asked Jimmy as we took the first sips of our cocktails. (He always uses that line with the kids at the dinner table.) "No," he replied confused and questioning where I was headed. I nodded my head with all seriousness and said, "Yeah, you do." To which he looked into my eyes, and I knew that he knew. "NO!" he said. "Yes," I retorted, "and let me explain why..."

We spent the next three hours discussing and dreaming after I broke out the pictures of Lulu on my cell phone. The idea became so real, and so feasible. Why not? We have the space in our new home (with a renovation), and we could see how it could positively affect our kids. We pictured Charlie as a nurturing big brother, we could see Madi loving on a little sister, we knew that Joseph would be blessed by goodness, he knew what it was like to be without a family for so long. The more we talked about it, the more we realized that it would be a blessing for all of our take part in putting faith into action and giving this child our love. At the end of the night, Jimmy claimed he was 75%/25% with the 75% being against the idea. But I knew he was full of baloney. He did too. We walked back to the hotel and happened to pass by the bar in the lobby only to find a bartender fumbling with an opened bottle champagne that was bubbling over. When she asked us if we'd like a complimentary glass, how could we say no? After everything that had happened that evening, now the Holy Spirit was giving us a champagne toast. It felt like a celebration.

A couple of weeks passed, and I had reached out to various medical sources for opinions. Jimmy and I hadn't discussed Lulu again since that night, and I was beginning to feel like maybe things were slipping backwards. I called upon a couple of my devout sisters-in-Christ to pray for his change of heart.

On July 15th, I emailed the adoption agency with a question, and received a reply the next morning that stopped me in my tracks. The email was asking where we were in our decision making process. The message wasn't pushy, but rather purely focused on securing a family for Lulu and very understanding if we weren't ready to commit. I completely agreed that we did not want Lulu to have to wait any longer for a family, and asked if we could give them an answer the next morning.

The timing was once again interesting, because Jimmy and I had been on a cleanse for the ten days prior. Not that all of our cobwebs were swept clean, but we were certainly in a state of clarity without alcohol, processed foods, caffeine, and sugar for that time! It was the last day of our cleanse, and they needed an answer the next day. Our social worker, who'd been notified about Lulu, urged us to pray together. Jimmy and I talked and talked. We took time to ourselves, and we prayed and contemplated. By that night at bedtime, Jimmy voiced that he had complete peace about this adoption.

Unexplainable. Complete. Peace.

Proof that God can change hearts. The next morning, I promptly emailed our new agency and gave them the news of our decision to make Lulu our daughter, and we submitted our letter of intent.